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Done And Done And Done

Region 1 Board member John Sanders

Region 1 Board member John Sanders

Monday evening, the Region 1 Board of Education held their regular monthly meeting in addition to all those special meetings. They reviewed the budget one last time and will sit on it for one month. They approved the joint agreement for the employment of the Superintendent of Schools by all seven Boards in Region 1. They successfully listened to the needs of the local Boards. They also approved the start of a long range plan that came out of two Board retreats. And they approved the job description for the position of Assistant Superintendent after a lengthy definition process. This meeting proved to be the culmination of a lot of hard work.

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The Boy Friend

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Storm Clouds

Lara Mittaud, Chairman, Canaan Board of Education

Lara Mittaud, Chairman, Canaan Board of Education

Wednesday evening, the All Boards Chairs committee (ABC) and the Region 1 Board of Education met in joint session to discuss issues of regional governance and the current budget. The discussion on the joint agreements was direct and confrontational as the two representatives from Falls Village expressed their displeasure with the entire direction of the group. In the end the ABC committee recommended a joint agreement for employment of the Superintendent of Schools and sent it to the local Boards of Education for approval. The equal apportionment of the compensation for the Superintendent was included, but was delayed for one year because local budgets already reflect the current method. The discussion of the joint agreement on shared services was put off to a later date. Lara Mittaud, Chairman of Falls Village Board of Education, appeared to say that her town would take legal action on the matter.

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Comfortable

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The Region 1 Board of Education met again to discuss the budget for the 2015-2016 school year. The budget was reduced slightly by all administrators to bring the current total to $15,618,139. That corresponds to a 3.09% increase from last year. It also corresponds to $25,987 per student in the high school, likely to be the largest spending high school in the state. The Board seemed comfortable with this budget and seemed ready to adopt it at their next meeting. They also met in executive session concerning negotiations with the non-certified union in what promises to be a prolonged process.

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One Board Member’s View

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By Claude Rolo

I would like to share my personal perspective as board chair for the Salisbury Board of Education and thus a member of the All Boards Chairs (ABC) Committee as to why the Region One Board of Education (R1) and the ABC are working on evaluating our current governance policy, the 7000 Series and how each school district employs a superintendent.

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Review Process

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This week, the Region 1 Board of Education started the review of the full budget for Region 1. The process was lengthy and detailed. The total budget showed an increase of 4.90%, mostly driven by an unsustainable increase of 8.59% in pupil services. The budget for Housatonic Valley Regional High School showed an increase of 2.61%. However, with the drop in enrollment from 420 students to 394 at the high school, the actual increase per student is 9.3% without the additions in special education. Some of the Board were skeptical of the costs and wanted to look for opportunities to cut staff. The total budget for Region 1 is projected at $16,658,360 until the Board trims it.

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Extravagant

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Region 1 is losing its children by leaps and bounds. The enrollment at Housatonic Valley Regional High School is down to 394 students this year. Recent enrollment projections given by Superintendent Patricia Chamberlain indicate that the enrollment in Region 1 will steadily decline. And, in spite of the efforts of the Region 1 Board of Education, the cost per pupil is up to an astounding $26,333 in the current budget. To put that number in perspective, the state average cost per pupil last year was $15,146 according to state data. That puts Housatonic more than $4,000,000 over the average state budget. That is a solid measure of extravagance. Housatonic has become the most expensive public high school in the State of Connecticut.

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Assistant Superintendent Leadership Profile

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The Region 1 Board of Education and All Boards Chair (ABC) Committee saw the fall 2014 vacancy in the assistant superintendency as an opportunity to examine and possibly reconfigure the role. They hired Mary Broderick, a search consultant with the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education, to conduct a study and report back findings before seeking candidates to fill the vacancy.

Selecting a school leader is an enormous responsibility. Public education has become increasingly complex, with many decisions about what should be in place for children made far from the classrooms of Region 1. The Region brings its own complexities, with six autonomous schools, each overseen by its own board, all feeding into one high school, overseen by the Region 1 Board. The chairs of the six elementary boards represent their board on the All Boards Chair (ABC) Committee. The Board and ABC Committee, comprising the search committee, will want to select a leader who can navigate these complexities, bridge geographic and school level divides, and generate enthusiasm, excitement, and encouragement for teacher and student growth.

This Leadership Profile presents the findings from nine focus groups conducted in December 2014 and January 2015 and 173 responses to an online survey posted on the Region 1 Public Schools website. In conducting the focus groups and developing the survey, the consultant used an unbiased, structured approach involving a series of consistent questions. She asked about strengths and challenges of the Region 1 Public Schools and communities which could bear upon future leadership requirements, and the strengths and challenges of the current (assistant superintendent) structure. She then asked about the qualities, characteristics, experience, and skills most desirable in the next educational leader to fill this role. She is presenting the findings to the Region 1 Board of Education and ABC Committee without revealing the identity of any individual contributor.

Assistant Superintendent Leadership Profile

Assistant Superintendent Vacancy Posting

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A Snow Event

Housatonic Principal Jose Martinez

Housatonic Principal Jose Martinez

Because of recent snowy weather, the Region 1 Board of Education combined some of their regular meeting with a special budget meeting. Housatonic Principal Jose Martinez presented the first pass of the high school budget which increased 2.75%. He proposed providing computer devices to each student, phased in over a two year period. Business Manager Sam Herrick summarized the overall regional budget which increased 4.82%, mostly on a substantial increase in pupil services. The cost per student has skyrocketed to $26,333 because of the declining enrollment; Housatonic is down to 394 students as of October 1, 2014. Next year, Salisbury and Sharon will see substantial increases in regional assessments: $384,303 and $218,594 respectively. Kent’s share will also increase by $149,941. Martinez, with the help of a guidance teacher, also talked about the AP, SAT, and state science tests.

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Region 1 News

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The Region 1 Search Committee, comprised of the Region 1 Board and the ABC Committee, has completed the first phase of the search process for the vacant administrative position in Central Office. Our consultant, Mary Broderick of CABE, has presented her results to the Search Committee in the form of a Leadership Profile. Based on the responses to nine focus groups and an online survey, the Search Committee has decided to post the position as an Assistant Superintendent. The Leadership Profile and the data behind it will be posted on the Region 1 website on Friday, February 06. The website can be found at this location: http://www.region1schools.org/

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